President’s Message by Jan Eriksen

 The Special Month of March

Happy March! I was wondering how this month became Women’s History Month and about the origin of International Women’s Day. So I did a little research and here is what I learned.

The first National Woman’s Day was celebrated in the U.S. on February 28, 1909. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, at which women protested their working conditions. In 1911 International Woman’s Day was observed for the first time on March 19 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In 1913 and 1914 International Woman’s Day also became a mechanism for opposing World War I. In the post-1945 period the name changed from the singular “woman’s” day to plural “women’s” day. In 1975, International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on its current date of March 8. IWD is now observed in more than 100 countries and is an official holiday in 27 nations.
The designation of March as Women’s History Month has a much more recent beginning. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and carried out a Women’s History Week in 1978. The week of March 8 was chosen to correspond with International Women’s Day. In 1980 a consortium of women’s groups and historians, led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance), lobbied for national recognition.
As a result, in February 1980 President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8th that year as National Women’s History Week. Subsequent Presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as Women’s History Month.
A special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women.

This month in La Crosse please read the inspirational women’s biographies in the Tribune each day, admire the window display at Pearl Street Books, and attend the International Women’s Day Celebration. Many individuals in AAUW In Action and the IWD Celebration Committee, especially Lois Gilbert and Erica Koonmen, have worked hard to make March 2019 memorable.